How to Calculate Portion Sizes for Weight Loss

Are you still unfamiliar with the hand method? In this article, we'll explain this simple technique to ensure you're eating the right portion sizes depending on the types of food you want to measure.
How to Calculate Portion Sizes for Weight Loss

Last update: 31 July, 2019

Losing weight is synonymous with portion sizes and eating healthily. That’s why people who want to reach their ideal weight usually eliminate unhealthy food from their diets. Some examples of the things they may cut out include junk foods, fried foods, and sugary drinks. This is a very important step, but it’s not the only one you have to take in order to lose weight.

Eating healthy food doesn’t mean you can eat as much as you want. It’s important to keep in mind the right portion sizes if you want to lose weight. This is the only way to find a balance between healthy foods and appropriate portions.

In this article, we’ll suggest a very simple method to check if you’re really eating the right amount of food. It’s called the hand method, a technique that uses your own hand to calculate the ideal portion sizes.

In the following paragraphs, we’ll explain how big different food portions should be in comparison with your hand. You’ll see how this method stands out in simplicity and effectiveness.

Portion sizes: meat and fish

Meat and fish are the two main protein sources that we eat. Because of this, they must be present in our daily diets. They’re also very satiating foods, which means they contribute to regulating your appetite.

Speaking about meat and fish in broad terms is quite difficult. Depending on the type that you’re eating, the nutritional values may change considerably.

Either way, they’re high-calorie foods that contain a significant amount of fat. For this reason, we should limit their consumption to a portion that’s about the size of our palm.

The right portion for fish is about the size of our palm

It’s not enough to choose a steak or fish fillet that’s the size of your hand and cook it however you like. Cook them on a grill or bake them in order to ensure they remain as healthy as possible. If you find this option too bland, you can use a wide variety of spices to season your meat or fish and pack them with lots of flavors.


Cheese is a product that we can use in many different ways. It’s perfect to put in a sandwich, as a healthy snack or in a salad.

You can also use it to make different sauces or to melt on top of pasta. There are many people who truly love cheese and eat it in big amounts.

To know what the appropriate portion size for cheese is, you have to take as a reference the surface from your index finger to your little finger. That’s the best way to enjoy this versatile food in a healthy way.

Portion sizes for all types of wine

We’ve talked on previous occasions about how healthy it is to drink a glass of wine with your meals. Despite being an alcoholic beverage, wine contains a multitude of properties such as antioxidants and astringents.

This doesn’t mean you can enjoy it in large quantities; it’s actually the opposite. The right portion size for wine would be the width of three fingers: your index, middle and ring finger. In other words, a glass of wine filled as tall the thickness of three fingers is the recommended portion if you want to benefit from this drink.

Pasta, use your fist as a reference

Pasta is another one of those foods that can’t be missing from your diet. Its energy contribution is one of the properties that stand out the most. Besides that, almost everyone likes pasta, and there are so many types and ways to cook it that it’s virtually impossible to become bored.

A bowl of pasta and tuna

To know the right amount of pasta we should eat, we’ll use our fist as a point of reference. The pasta should fit inside your closed fist. On the first instance, you may think it’s a very small portion, but keep in mind that pasta grows in size during the cooking process. This is the same portion size you can use for rice or legumes.

Portion sizes for vegetables

Vegetables are the type of food that we can eat more abundantly. On top of that, many kinds of vegetables shrink after you cook them. Since they’re light food with a lot of properties, vegetables should always be the main protagonists in your plate.

To calculate the right portion size, you have to stretch and put together the two palms of your hands. Everything you can fit in them will be the number of vegetables you can eat.

As you can see, measuring the right portion sizes for different foods is not complicated at all. In fact, you can make sure you’re cooking the right portions with just your hands. Don’t hesitate to implement this method!

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  • Amzallag, W. (2000). De perder peso, al control del peso: Experiencia de un programa. Revista Cubana de Investigaciones Biomedicas.